Monday, January 14, 2013

Navigating the bibliographic landscape, tourist vs. local.

Greetings! I am working on resolutions today, one of them being actually reading the cache of books I hoard instead of adding to the pile, another being to write more about what I am reading. Today's book:

Architourism: authentic, escapist, exotic, spectacular / edited by Joan Ockman and Salomon Frausto. Published in 2005 by the estimable house of Prestel.

Here's the Link+ catalog record if you would like more information:

Go ahead and click, review the record, and think about what it is possible to know based on this catalog record.

Perhaps you are now wondering how I found this book and fell sway to its colorful pages and multiple contributors. You should know the answer to that by now, wandering the stacks, of course! Without a good wander in the stacks, when you go in search of a title and in the process of finding/not finding it, you do a bit of shelf-reading, spend a moment picking up titles that catch your eye, and end up, as usual, returning to your office somewhat disheveled from carrying a lot of books, you miss out an a lot.

Wandering the stacks is confidence building in the way that being a local brings its own sense of authority. You have walked these alleys or stacks so many times, that you can detach from awareness and let your mind wander. In library stacks, if you experience them enough, you can achieve what I will call biblioawareness, (bookvision?), that state when you become open to the connections possible between the books you are currently seeing, the books you have seen in the past, and the books you are aware of but have not seen.

More sensible people might call this cataloging. I'll try to explain more what I mean here. Go back and have a look at the catalog record. It follows all the rules (and there are many) for a MARC record. It does what was impossible just a few decades ago, letting me know in real-time that availability of copies in multiple locations. However, it does not let me know that D. Medina Lasansky's chapter, "Blurred Boundaries between Tourism and History: the case of Tuscany" is in this book. This chapter makes me aware of Lasansky's theories on authentic vs. accurate and has me ready to seek out her longer work, The Renaissance Perfected: Architecture, Spectacle, and Tourism in Fascist Italy (Penn UP 2004).

Perhaps over the course of this semester I'll come up with better terms for my process of internalizing a book's contents and establishing its relationships to other texts vis-a-vis subject headings and other access points. But for now, I return to Architourism and its vivid discussion of places and people ranging from Gehry's Bilbao to Le Corbusier and then shall return it to the stacks via that construction known as the Book Drop.

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